austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,

Can it be the breeze

It's remarkable what odd things will trigger a desire to do something hugely impractical. For me, it was realizing only near the end of the song that my old-time radio station was playing a Stan Freberg tune (``Wunnerful, Wunnerful''). Partly that's because at ``work'' the radio is supposed to be a background sound. Mostly it's because this was in a block they call ``Radio Now And Then'', which plays various short disconnected segments of audio, some of it great --- old-time radio --- and some of it agonizing --- the only thing worse than modern Morning Zoo Antifunny Wacky songs making fun of Iran is thirty year old Morning Zoo Antifunny Wacky songs making fun of Iran --- and this block made me realize how unsatisfied I am with the old-time comedy available.

My preferred station has 45 minutes of comedy scheduled in its eight-hour program day, Jack Benny And friends featuring the master show and miscellaneous related programs and then Lum And Abner. Often it gives another hour, sometimes a fresh Jack Benny and friends, or Lum and Abner; usually once a week there's Bob and Ray and then Vic and Sade, and fairly often Fibber McGee and Molly. Friday mornings they pull in strange radio versions of BBC shows like Fawlty Towers or To The Manor Born which seem to just be the audio feeds of these shows with narration dropped on top to explain things that were visual jokes. (For Fawlty Towers it's done by the guy who played Manuel, in-character but sounding like he recorded this three decades later maybe without seeing the show.)

And I realize it's not enough. Even if we stick to the pitiful remnants of the Golden Age of Radio (eg, only about 600 shows of Jack Benny's long radio run survive) which were recorded and are now public domain somehow, there's a lot of comedy out there, and often fantastic at that. But in my none-too-careful search mostly of what's rated inclusion on iTunes, there doesn't seem to be an old-time comedy station. Drama, sure, and mystery or crime, but shouldn't there be an easy way to catch The Jack Carson Show, Burns and Allen, or, say, The Stan Freberg Show? It's given me vague aspirations to making my own Internet radio station, and I know rationally that's way too much work for me to ever do.

Trivia: In real life, Jack Benny never wore a toupee. Source: On The Air: The Encyclopedia Of Old-Time Radio, John Dunning.

Currently Reading: The Emperors Of Chocolate: Inside The Secret World Of Hershey And Mars, Joël Glenn Brenner. Man, chocolate makers are weird people.


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